As hedgehogs only come out at night, you’re not likely to find out whether or not they can swim. They are naturally buoyant, and they can swim quite well. Their main problem once they’re in the water, is how to get back out again.
Hedgehogs & Swimming
Hedgehogs are generally active in their search for food. During a night, they can walk for several miles to find it, and if they encounter water, they can swim across if they believe food lies at the other side. Ponds and water also attract insects, so for a hedgehog, these are great places to visit in their nightly search for food.
It’s thought they may also swim for pleasure too, though not all hedgehogs choose to do this. They don’t need to swim, and some will never swim for their whole life. Unlike many other animals, they don’t need water to keep themselves clean so they don’t need to swim.
They have a natural buoyancy which they owe to their quills. These have air filled chambers which help to keep hedgehogs afloat. If they begin to get tired, they can roll up and lie on their back in the water.
The Dangers of Ponds & Pools
One of the biggest dangers to hedgehogs is garden ponds and pools. If you have a garden pond or pool, do try to make sure that hedgehogs cannot fall in and get stuck. They will be able to swim to one side, but if they cannot get out, they will drown.
To make your garden pool or pond hedgehog friendly, always include a way for them to get out. When you add this, remember that while you may know where the way out is for a hedgehog, they won’t, so try to put more than one escape route in the pond for them.
- One great way to make sure that hedgehogs don’t fall in the pond is to cover it with netting. Be careful of the type of netting as hedgehogs can get tangled up.
- A simple plank of wood will make a useful ramp for the hedgehogs to climb out. Make sure it is kept clean so that they will be able to climb up without slipping back in.
- Large rocks or stones piled together at the side make a useful pond feature and will also help hedgehogs and frogs to get out.
- Upside down flower pots around the edge of the pond will give the hedgehogs something to climb on to, to ease themselves out.
- You can also buy hedgehog ladders. These are ramps which go in the pond and they have ridges for the hedgehogs to grip on to.
Hazards in the Water
While water presents no dangers for the hedgehogs, as long as they can get out, there are other dangers in the water.
- Swimming pools have chlorine. Chlorine can damage a hedgehog’s skin, so try to make sure that they cannot fall in. A simple low wall around the edge of the pool is all you need.
- If you use pond cleaners, or other chemicals, these can also be harmful to a hedgehog. Either try not to use them, or cover the pond so the hedgehogs cannot fall in.
When a hedgehog first goes in to water, it may feel a little scared. It doesn’t take them long, though, to start swimming and when they do, they are confident swimmers. It’s not necessary for them to swim, so it’s not something you may ever get to witness.
If they visit your garden, do all you can to help them by making sure they are safe if you have a pond. You may find they enjoy using it if they know it’s safe for them to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What do I do if I find a hedgehog in my pond?
If it’s swimming and doesn’t seem to appear in any danger, leave it where it is. If you’re not sure if they will find the way out, you can add a ramp so they know where it is, but if you try to move it, you may scare it.
If you find a hedgehog and it appears to be in trouble, lift it out. If it’s been there a while it may be cold and distressed, so try to put it somewhere to dry out and warm up. Once you have, if the hedgehog is breathing OK, put him out in the garden in a sheltered spot and check the next day to make sure it has gone.
As long as the hedgehog doesn’t seem distressed or unwell, it’s best to put it back in the garden as soon as possible.
How can I encourage hedgehogs to swim in my pond?
If your pond has lots of insects, a hedgehog will be drawn towards it. Plenty of pond plants will attract insects but before you add these, make sure you also plan plenty of escape routes for the hedgehogs.